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Strategic Sovereign Defaults under International Sanctions

  • Carlo de Bassa Scheresberg, Francesco Passarelli

Sanctions induce political instability. We present a model where sanctioned regimes may decide to repudiate their public debts in order to keep internal support. To be effective, this strategy requires the share of foreign debt to be larger than the minimum quota of population which is needed for regime support. Combining the data we highlight that more than a third of all sovereign debt crises in the 1970-2001 period are connected to an international sanction episode. To rule out endogeneities, we propose an innovative instrumental variable based on foreign policy cycles. Results confirm that sovereign defaults reduce sanctions' destabilizing impact. When the scope for internal financial transfers is particularly narrow, debt repudiation releases resources for public spending, invalidating chances of overthrow. Lastly, we report evidence of sizeable anticipation effects which contradict the enforcement theory: high chances of receiving sanctions in the future imply a current 20% rise in probability of strategic default.

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Paper provided by ISLA, Centre for research on Latin American Studies and Transition Economies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy in its series ISLA Working Papers with number 42.

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Length: 19 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:slp:islawp:islawp42
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  1. Andrew K. Rose & Mark M. Spiegel, 2002. "A gravity model of sovereign lending: trade, default and credit," Working Paper Series 2002-09, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  2. Martinez, Jose Vicente & Sandleris, Guido, 2011. "Is it punishment? Sovereign defaults and the decline in trade," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 909-930, October.
  3. Ugo Panizza & Federico Sturzenegger & Jeromin Zettelmeyer, 2009. "The Economics and Law of Sovereign Debt and Default," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(3), pages 651-98, September.
  4. Gary Clyde Hufbauer & Jeffrey J. Schott & Kimberly Ann Elliott, 1990. "Economic Sanctions Reconsidered: 2nd Edition," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 82, May.
  5. Sebastian Edwards, 1983. "LDC's Foreign Borrowing and Default Risk: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 1172, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Axel Schimmelpfennig & Nouriel Roubini & Paolo Manasse, 2003. "Predicting Sovereign Debt Crises," IMF Working Papers 03/221, International Monetary Fund.
  7. Michael Tomz & Mark L. J. Wright, 2007. "Do countries default in “bad times”?," Working Paper Series 2007-17, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  8. Eduardo Borensztein & Ugo Panizza, 2006. "Do Sovereign Defaults Hurt Exporters?," Research Department Publications 4447, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  9. Paolo Manasse & Nouriel Roubini, 2005. "'Rules of Thumb' for Sovereign Debt Crises," International Finance 0509003, EconWPA.
  10. Federico Sturzenegger & Jeromin Zettelmeyer, 2007. "Debt Defaults and Lessons from a Decade of Crises," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262195534, June.
  11. Edwards, Sebastian, 1984. "LDC Foreign Borrowing and Default Risk: An Empirical Investigation, 1976-80," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 726-34, September.
  12. Eduardo Borensztein & Ugo Panizza, 2009. "The Costs of Sovereign Default," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 56(4), pages 683-741, November.
  13. Calvo, Guillermo A, 1988. "Servicing the Public Debt: The Role of Expectations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 647-61, September.
  14. Chang, Roberto, 2007. "Financial crises and political crises," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(8), pages 2409-2420, November.
  15. Cole, Harold L & Kehoe, Patrick J, 1998. "Models of Sovereign Debt: Partial versus General Reputations," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(1), pages 55-70, February.
  16. Juan Carlos Hatchondo & Leonardo Martinez & Horacio Sapriza, 2007. "The economics of sovereign defaults," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Spr, pages 163-187.
  17. Mitchener, Kris James & Weidenmier, Marc D., 2010. "Supersanctions and sovereign debt repayment," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 19-36, February.
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